Thursday, June 30, 2016

New Studio Addition

For some time I have been wanting a sewing machine that would make quilting larger quilts easier.  Since my husband wouldn’t let me take over the master bedroom for my studio (giggle) there is no room for a Long-Arm machine so that was never in the mix.

For a while I was excited about the Sweet Sixteen sit down machine but realized that I didn’t have a place to leave it set up so I would have to put it up every time I was ready to quilt something.   Then I started wondering if I wouldn’t just use my regular machine on smaller quilts rather than pulling out the quilting machine.   Did I REALLY want to spend $5000+ on a machine that I would probably only use a few times each year.

I mentioned my dilemma to my creative group and Fay suggested that I might look at the Juki line of machines.   When I first started checking for them, I could only find Industrial Machines and was disappointed.  After we got back, I looked further and was excited to find the Juki 2010Q machine. 

I found a store in Atlanta that sold them so I drove over to give one a test drive, accompanied by fellow quilter, Sylvia.   I started sewing, really liking what I was finding but was told that this model was being phased out and replaced with the Juki 2200QVP Mini. 

Long story short, I bought the machine ($1,200), brought it home, returned the next day to buy the table that was designed for it and am now happily sewing away!!

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This is a mechanical machine…..no computerization around.  It only does one thing (sew a straight stitch), but it does that beautifully!!!  I realized that I didn’t need tons of special stitches since I have had my Viking for over 15 years and have only used 4 or 5 of them in that time!!  And, I still have that machine if they are needed in the future.

It has a manual dial controller for stitch length which I really like when I am using a walking foot and starting with tiny stitches but moving to a good quilting stitch.  It is easier to turn a dial rather than having to hit a button over and over again.

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It has a marvelous thread cutter that leaves only a small thread tail but somehow manages to start stitching again without unthreading the bobbin or the needle!!!

It always stops in the needle down position and the only way to get the needle up is to push the button.   It took a bit of practice to get used to the fact that I couldn’t raise the needle by lightly tapping the foot pedal.

The reverse bar is large and easy to get to and the feed dogs are easy to raise and lower.

Finally, it has a speed control and, when set on “rabbit”, it can FLY!!!

The threading mechanism is a bit different….it starts with a pre-tension bar, winds its way thru a series of hooks, ending with a marvelous needle threader.  I figure that any extra time spent with the pre-tension is saved by not having to manually thread the machine!!DSC07937

There is also a presser foot pressure knob that is easy to get to.

I also really like the spool holder and adjustable thread guide, especially since I use a lot of large cones…… DSC07936

The bobbin is larger and holds a lot of thread however it is side loading and it has taken a bit for me to get used to it.   There is a handy-dandy door in the table to allow access to the bobbin…..

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The foot pedal is large and is designed for your entire foot to be on top of it……much more comfortable than having my heel on the floor…..DSC07941

The thread cutter can also be activated by the foot, simply by pressing your heel down.  I think that this can be good, but I was having trouble hitting it when I didn’t want to.  Fortunately, this newer model includes a rubber base that you can put on the pedal so that the cutter is not activated….a lifesaver for me!!!

It has a Knee lever for the presser foot but it will not work when the machine is in the table.   Since I have never used one, that doesn’t bother me at all!!

As one reviewer put it…..it is a thirsty machine and requires regular oiling.   It is not hard to do and I will just have to get it into my head that I need to do it!!

It came with a bunch of feet including a regular foot that is a scant quarter inch from the needle.  There is also a quarter inch foot that has a bar that prevents the fabric from moving out too far…..

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And, the seam is VERY accurate!!!

The walking foot is heavy and a bit loud, but it sews a magnificent seam……DSC07976

I was a bit worried about not being able to see down the long foot but it is actually easy to use since the sides provide a guide for sewing placement.

The machine came with THREE free motion feet but I am not sure exactly what to do with them all.   I was excited that this model came with an open toed darning foot and it works great.DSC07970

I also purchased a ruler foot but have yet to get the tension adjusted when using it.  If I tighten it down closer to the fabric, it gets stuck on the seam allowances, but if I lighten the pressure, the stitches don’t catch.   I need to spend some time playing with it until I figure it out…..

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The final perk for the machine is the extended harp space (between the needle and the machine).  This isn’t as big as some machines but gives me 4 extra inches from side to side and another 3-4 in height.   It has made a huge difference in the quilting that I have already done.  I cant wait to try it out on a queen size quilt and just happen to have one basted and ready to go.

I am also happy that I made the return trip to purchase the table.  It is designed specifically for this machine, although my Viking will fit in the opening as well.  It has a drop down extension that is marvelous when I am quilting…..DSC07968

When the machine is not in the table, the extension to the left of the machine s1ts on folded legs, making it easily portable.

I did a lot of quilting on a UFO that I wanted to finish and will show that in another post, but also pieced a charity quilt to try out the 1/4 inch feet……

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I feel like I made a good purchase and hope that I will have MANY years of quilting on it!!! 

Friday, June 24, 2016

It’s a Southern Thing–Challenge results

In the last post, I told about my challenge entry……

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As usual, there were a lot of really fun entries and several fun stories behind them.  Here they are……

Pat focused on the good old Southern “Hey Y’all”…….

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Sue got her inspiration from her Magnolia Wallpaper and did a 3-D rendering of the ubiquitous Southern flower……DSC07916

Madeline went for the song “Amazing Grace”, noting that it was sung everywhere……DSC07914

Linda had a “Southern Snowman” that is NOT made of snow!!

DSC07915Denise stitched her favorite Cotton plant, using a rust dyed fabric for the background to simulate the Georgia clay, and trying some thread painting to make the cotton bolls…..DSC07917

Cleo picked our favorite phrase….”Bless her heart”.   For all of you Non-Southerners, you can say ANTHING about someone (good or bad) as long as you add the phrase, “Bless Her Heart”!!DSC07919

Pat used the Dogwood blossom as her inspiration and did a TINY Millefiori design but MACHINE pieced the whole thing…..it was amazing!!!!DSC07920

Fay did a definition quilt……DSC07921

And Deb used a scene from “Gone With the Wind” where Scarlet (the main character) pulls a carrot out of the ground and says “As God as my witness, I will never be hungry again”…….

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Once again, it was a wonderful challenge!!   Bring on the next one!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

It’s a Southern Thing!!!

In June, our guild held another challenge.  This time the theme was “It’s a Southern Thing” and the size was limited to a 12 inch square.

As usual, I had MANY ideas about what to do with this challenge, but most of them were far too complicated or detailed to put into a 12 inch square.  However, I have put several of these ideas into my “to be done later” folder.

Then, one morning I went out to get the newspaper and happened to glance up into the early-morning sky.   Then I saw him and knew what my challenge had to be.   Let me digress……

Since I was a little girl I have loved the constellation “Orion, the Hunter”.  I did a Girl Scout project about him back in elementary school and He has always been the one constellation that I could easily find. 

As we have lived and traveled around the world, Orion has been with us but hasn’t looked quite the same.  When we were living in Australia, he was even upside down!!

So now, when I look up into the sky and see Orion, I know that I am truly home and that is my “Southern” thing!!

Since I knew that my piece was going to be a nighttime sky and would be fairly dark, I decided that I wanted a newly budding tree in the foreground, adding some interest and also a bit of light.

In my mind, I was thinking of a Dogwood tree but ended up going for more of a generic tree design.   

I started out with the background fabrics, looking for a dark green for the foreground.  The one that I found was perfect, except for some white dots that just weren’t working.  I ended up taking a fabric marker and coloring each of them in!!  You can see the difference between the center of the fabric and the side…DSC07176

I added a fence to break up the background a bit more……DSC07182

Now it was time for the tree and, since the piece was small and I had plenty of time, I decided to experiment a little bit.  I pulled out my wool roving and started thread painting the tree trunk and branches, using two layers of water soluble interfacing as my base…..

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It was so much fun to pull the roving until it was thinner and thinner, making the branches.  I then cut off much of the exposed interfacing and attached it to my piece using even more machine embroidery.  Once the interfacing was washed out, the tree skeleton looked great!!…..DSC07197

Now it was time to add some buds to the tree….but what to use??  I started out with beads……

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….but felt like they were a bit TOO much.  So, I cut all of them off and started over again with French knots.  I added some little circles of roving to be some buds that were a bit more open…..

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Next I added some embroidered grass tufts and some machine quilting.

Now it was time for the stars.  I had purchased some “Hot Fix Crystals” and a heat gun at a Sewing Expo and decided that now was the time to use them…..DSC07923

The final step was to spray the sky with a glitter spray.  I actually did this at the very start of the project, but it had all washed/worn off before I was finished so I gave it another coat!!

 

It worked well and I am very happy with the finished project…..

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Final Thoughts

Well, we have now been back home for over a week and many people have asked what our favorite things were.   As we have talked about the trip, we both felt that it wasn’t a typical “sight-seeing” trip.  Instead, it was a trip to settle into a community and get to know the area and the people who live there.

We were excited to meet Cristina who served us breakfast most mornings.  She and I are now Facebook Friends which I am VERY excited about.

We also enjoyed meeting Luis…..DSC07846

…..the fun waiter at our favorite "Praia Mar” restaurant.

And then there was the young waitress at another restaurant who would always smile, point to her watch and shake her head when we would arrive before the cafe opened!!    And, yes, many of our friends were made over food!!!!

We cant say enough good about our wonderful landlords, Jose and Franchesca.  There was a period of about a week where I didn’t post a blog and Jose emailed and asked if we were ok.   He was concerned because I hadn’t posted anything!!!   It was really sweet!!

And of course, we had a wonderful time driving our little Fiat down all of the narrow, walled lanes and listening to Gwyneth calmly recalculate our route when we missed turns over and over again.

The walks along the beach were a blast, especially as it started warming up a bit at the end of our journey.   By the way, it finally hit 80 degrees on the day that we flew out of Porto!!!!

Our time in Austria was enjoyable and Vienna is a beautiful city!!!  We had a wonderful time visiting with the two families there and really appreciated them including us in their family times. 

Unfortunately we ran into a couple of rude male waiters, one of whom we walked out on before ordering.  Everyone else was extremely helpful!

We have never had this before, but both of our Mother’s had some issues while we were gone and twice during the trip, we debated returning early.  Fortunately they are both ok now!!

To end up our journey, we flew back to Lisbon for one night, setting a wake up call for 2:00AM so that we could catch a 5:00AM flight to Amsterdam.  We had planned to grab some food in the airport, but by the time we made it thru passport control, it was time to board the plane.  Fortunately, we had fantastic meals on the plane so we arrived in Atlanta full and happy!!!

Our Daughter-In-Law, Amber picked us up at the airport and we were soon walking into our home and falling happily into our recliners…..yes, we missed them when we were gone!!

We had a great laugh when we got home as our “friends” (Wayne & Kathie and Roy & Diane) had gotten together and decided to prank “rent” our house on AirBNB while we were gone.   The prank was elaborate including a letter welcoming the guests to our home…..

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There were empty wine bottles all around the kitchen, a one page document detailing local amenities, copies of local event information and even a “guest book” signed by people from several countries…..

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All I can say is that I am glad that these people are our friends.   If they go to this much trouble to prank a friend, I can imagine what they would do to an enemy!!

All in all, it was a wonderful trip where Michael made scientific connections, helped many students just getting started in Science, and reconnected with many friends in the Scientific community!!

As we were driving out of Vila Do Conde, we walked across the road to take one last photo at the beach……

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This should hold us until our next trip…..in SIX weeks!!!!

More to come…….

Friday, June 17, 2016

Vienna Finale!!

On Monday morning, we had to move to a different hotel that was by the University where Michael would be working for the next two days.  We dropped off our bags, Michael headed to work and I started out again for the old area of Vienna.

I THOUGHT that I could find the train station, but that didn’t prove to easily be the case: however, as with most detours, there were interesting things to see anyway!

The first thing that I came to was this beautiful church……IMG_6651

Naturally, I just HAD to go in for a look around.  What I found was an open, domed room with soft colored murals on the walls and ceiling…..

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As  I watched, a priest came in and started getting set up for a service, so I found a bench at the back of the building and settled in to watch.   The congregation was mostly women and they simply stood around the altar as the service progressed.  The priest started out with a chant and then the women would join in as a response.  It was magical to watch and listen……

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I am still not exactly sure what type of church it was, but I think that it was probably Russian Orthodox.

As I left, I resumed my search for the S-Bahn station, finally asking a police officer who pointed to this obscure sign…..

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Now how did I miss that!!!   I walked back to the station, but then couldn’t figure out how to purchase a ticket that would take me on both the S-Bahn and also on the Metro to get to the city.  When an Austrian woman asked me how to use the machine, I gave up and decided to walk to the Metro station and get rid of the S-Bahn leg!!   A mile later, I found the metro and made my way back to Stephenplatz.

My plan was to return to St. Stephens church and do some more exploring.   On Sunday afternoon I had spent some time going thru the main sanctuary, enjoying the simple stained glass windows…..

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…..and checking out the order of worship from the morning, seeing that they had sung “Praise to the Lord”.

I paid to enter into the main portion of the church and also purchased an audio guide.  You had to leave a Driver’s License before you could get the guide and I noticed that the woman in front of me handed in a Georgia license!!   I talked to them briefly and found out that they were from Big Canoe……it is a small world!!

I spent time looking at a Madonna and child statue as I listened to the audio guide describing it.  The guide talked about how the mother and child were connected by her scarf wrapping around him.  It was then that I saw this sweet photo…..

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The main altar was beautiful with the painting meant to look like an open door leading up to heaven……

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I don’t understand much about the Catholic church so was interested in this seating arrangement……

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I am not sure why this one seat is cordoned off!!

As usual, I was drawn to this statue with carved crochet lace in it…..IMG_6617

The metal work on this door was magnificent as well…..

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One of the intricately carved pulpits included a self-portrait of the sculptor (peeking out of the window at the bottom)……

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I enjoyed looking up into the humongous pipe organ…..

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The only sad part about this church is that the main altar is closed off unless you pay for it so ordinary people trying to worship during the day had to do so at a smaller altar to the side….

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I also went on a tour of the Catacombs underneath the church.  It was built in the 1400’s and we passed coffins filled with the bones of Dukes and Bishops.  We entered one room that held many pottery vessels and were told that they were not ashes, but contained the internal organs of many who were interred in the catacomb.

We followed a long tunnel further down into the catacomb, with the air becoming colder as we descended.  Now we were directly under the plaza outside of the church.  Here there were rooms of bones that had been thrown there during the Bubonic Plague epidemic in the 1400’s.  There were openings from these rooms that lead to ground level and the bodies were simply tossed in there.  They estimate that there are 12,000 bodies interred in this manner.

At some point they decided that they needed more room in these caverns so they had prisoners clean and stack the bones.   The result was rooms of neatly stacked bones with skulls embedded in the stacks…..a bit eerie!!!

So, with those previous day memories in my mind, I planned to visit the Church Treasury.  I entered the church and asked a uniformed man how to get to the treasury.  He motioned for me to follow him as he opened a small elevator door and wordlessly rode with me up the elevator. 

The treasury was filled with art and icons that had been given to the church over the years. IMG_6658

But, I was most excited by the fact that I was on the second floor at the back of the church and that I had bird’s eye view of not only the church…..IMG_6661

…but also the magnificent organ pipes that I had ogled from the ground floor…..IMG_6667

I would have LOVED to been able to sit down and give this a try…..

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Also, this Lyre playing angel caught my attention…….

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I spent a lot of time standing up here, looking at the church and watching the service that was starting to take place……

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….and then reluctantly left the church!!

The next planned stop was for lunch, but then I saw a bunch of women going into and out of a large clothing store so, of course, a bit of shopping had to be done first.   I ended up visiting two different stores and was really pleased with the clothes that I emerged with!!

For lunch, I revisited one of the Gelato shops that we had stopped at earlier, but went for a bit larger of a meal……

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It was magnificent to sit and eat this delight while watching the tourists stroll thru the square!!

My plan was to visit one of the small churches located just off of the square and walked into this gorgeous chapel……

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I enjoyed walking thru the building, but kept hearing a sound that I couldn’t quite figure out.  It was a whirring noise and seemed to be coming from the front of the sanctuary.  As I sat in one of the pews (some were marked “No tourists….only prayer please”), I finally noticed the man hanging from the ceiling with a vacuum cleaner nozzle in his hands!!  IMG_6713

I happily watched as he carefully vacuumed all around the statues, taking particular care to clean around the ears and noses!!!  I sat for a while and then noticed a flyer on the seat next to me that advertised an Organ Concert that was taking place at 3:00pm….just 10 minutes away.  So, I stayed around to listen a bit.   Have a listen for yourself….

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During the next piece, I looked up to see the workman walking carefully along the top ledge in the church, toting his ladder!!!

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I didn’t have time to stay for all of the concert, but really enjoyed what I did get to hear.

There was one last place that I wanted to check out before I left the main square….Loo’s Loo.  The story, according to Rick Steves, is that in 1900, a chemical-maker named “Loo” needed a publicity stunt to prove that his chemicals got things clean so he purchased two wine cellars under Graben Street and turned them into classy water closets, complete with candeiliers and mahogany.

So, I paid my .5 Euro to go in and use the facilities in Loo’s Loo, and of course I took a few photos as well.

I was escorted into a stall by a uniformed woman and the door was closed and locked behind me……IMG_6724

Quilter’s,  note the “Orange Peel” floor tiles!!!

After I had finished, the attendant went in and cleaned and got it ready for the next client……

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That night we were met by Michael’s host, Christian, and taken to another Biergarten.  Michael and I both opted for a “traditional’ Austrian meal.  In my case, I had a slice of ham, a slice of roasted pork and two types of sausages.  It was served with a bread dumpling that had a great flavor, but was extremely dense, and with Cabbage that had been boiled in beer.   Again, great flavor but an interesting texture.

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The next day was our last in Austria and Christian had asked me to meet he and Michael at the University at 3:00, so I knew that I needed to stay close to the hotel.  So, I decided to visit the Belvedere Palaces and Museum which were only a few blocks away.

I started out in the Lower Palace which wasn’t much to see, however, it housed an amazing collection of Religious Iconic art…..but no photos allowed.  There was a large Ball Room with  paintings along one wall and large sofas along the other so that you could sit and enjoy the view.

Many were extremely old  and were painted on various woods with most being on Fir.  It was interesting to look at these paintings up close as you could see that there was a design etched into the wood as well, so many of the background details were actually etched rather than painted.

There was a series of paintings of the Virgin Mary but these not only depicted her connection to Jesus, but also her birth and death and various times in her life.

Many of the pieces had been removed from larger Altar pieces that would have been made up of 10+ such paintings.  I was fascinated to learn that the altar pieces normally had a Sunday side and an Everyday side.  The Everyday sides were the ones on the outside of the altar and were obviously more worn.  The Sunday sides, which were inside the altarpiece and only opened on Sundays,  were more elaborate in design and were in much better condition.

I moved into a room full of statuary and noticed one likeness that had teeth carved in it.  It was very unusual as most only had closed mouths.  Since I was in “teeth” mode, I found a pottery statue that had teeth but you had to look under the lips to see them.

I returned to the LONG courtyard between the Upper and Lower Palace and made the walk to the larger of the palaces……

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…..stopping to chat with a few friends along the way……

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This palace held a HUGE art gallery and I spent two hours wandering thru it’s rooms.  

There was one gallery that included only self portraits, both realistic and surreal, many  dressed in various costumes,  including a clown.

There was one exhibition called “Light and Shadow” that contained only works by Kurzweill Max, an Austrian painter who died in 1916.  It was well titled as he was amazing at bringing light into his paintings.

One was called “The Dryad’s Death” and was a very dark painting that made you think of the deepest part of the forest.  There was a light in the horizon but when I first looked, I couldn’t see anything more.  Needless to say, I wasn’t that impressed with it!!   Then, as I continued to look, I could see the Dryad coming out of the tree.   I walked away really liking the painting!!!

Another favorite was call “A Dear Visitor”.  Here is a “stolen” internet photo…..640117

As I wandered thru the galleries, there were a few other pieces that stood out to me.

I loved this piece by Maximillian Oppenheimer, called “Die Philarmonkier”…..IMG_1904

It is a very large piece and contained SO much detail.  You could almost hear the music while you stood there.

In one gallery there was a painting surrounded by restoring equipment.  It was fun to look at the jars of paint, brushes, rags and even a vacuum cleaner.  There were several jars of gold gilt which made me think that they might have been restoring the frame rather than the actual painting.  I wish that they had been working so I could have watched!!

One room contained a series of statues called “The Character Heads” by  Franz Xavier Messerschmidt.  The interesting thing about these sculptures were the expressions on the faces, and the names assigned to the expressions.  This was one of my favorites……

Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, Character Head: The Beaked
1770
Alabaster, height 43 cm
Österreichische Galerie, Vienna

Try googling these and enjoy!!!!

In other galleries, I saw paintings by Van Gogh,  Max Liberman, Monet, and Manet.  One of my favorites was a Monet called “ DerKoch” which means “the Cook”…..2761b5df438d30011a0e583fed09584b

There was also an intriguing painting called “Seashore in the Mist” by Caspar David Friederich.  It is another one that you have to really look at to see all of the story……

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Finally, I found my next quilt in a tile piece in women’s bathroom!!!  It is a simple pattern…..

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….and when I saw it I started thinking about doing discharge dying of some black and brown fabrics that I have and then maybe adding some gold or bronze paint to them as well.   We will see what comes of it!!!!

In the evening we were taken to Christian’s home and spent several hours enjoying time with his wife and twin sons.  Then it was back to the hotel to get packed up to start our return journey!!!!

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